When it comes to drownings on the river, it’s never a question of if, it’s a question of when.
The answer, for a San Antonio man, proved to be Thursday in New Braunfels as authorities recovered his body shortly after 5 p.m. on the Guadalupe River.
His death is the second in the river since April 25 when another San Antonio man’s body was recovered from the Guadalupe near the 7200 block of Old Spring Branch Road.
There are a lot of details left to be penciled in for the most recent death. We don’t know what caused the man who was swimming in the river to slip beneath the waters.
In some other cases the causes are obvious.
Trying to swim in the river when the currents are strong or when the waters are high can lead to tragedy, so it’s important to pay attention to the flow rates and adhere to the recreational recommendations.
For those who are weaker swimmers or who have other medical conditions, a life vest might be the best solution. It might not be fashionable, but it’s better to go home after a day on the river with family and friends.
While there’s certainly a party atmosphere on the river, particularly during the summer season, mixing large amounts of alcohol with water recreation is a bad idea.
If you can’t walk straight, chances are you can’t swim straight, either. An inebriated person is less likely to be able to right themselves or react in a panic situation. They’re also more likely to fall, even if they can stand in the water, and run the risk of hurting themselves or knocking themselves unconscious. Those situations often end tragically.
If you are in the river, try not to be alone. Be with people who can help you if you run into issues, and who are willing to pay attention to you.
There are steps you can take to minimize the risks that come with being on the river, but the reality is that nobody can reduce it to zero — just like you can’t eliminate the possibility that you won’t get into a car wreck on the way to the river.
Search and rescue and dive crews prepare and drill for situations, but none of them enjoy having to use these specialized skills to return bodies to loved ones.
Any steps that all can take to reduce the amount of times they have to employ them, the better off all of us are.
Because it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.
That clock starts now.